MS. REBECCA SHEIR
Time for a quick break. But when we get back, the fierce competition to get into one of the best public high schools in the nation.
MS. SARMISTA ERABELLI
I was at work and I called her and I said, did you get the letter? And she said, I didn't get in.
That and more in just a minute on "Metro Connection," here on WAMU 88.5.
I'm Rebecca Sheir and welcome back to "Metro Connection." Today, we're talking about rivalry and competition. If you've ever seen the movie “Glengarry Glenn Ross,” you got to remember this line. It's said by Alec Baldwin, playing the role of hardnosed salesman, Blake.
MR. ALEC BALDWIN AS BLAKE
A, B, C. A, always, B, be, C, closing. Always be closing, always be closing.
Real estate, as we hear in this scene, is a stressful field. That's especially true here in the D.C. region where a lot of realtors are competing to buy and sell a limited number of homes. Kavitha Cardoza went out in the field with a few agents to see how they get a leg-up on their rivals.
MS. KAVITHA CARDOZA
When Karen Hall moved to Virginia, she didn't know anyone and connections to her community are the lifeblood of a realtor. She needed to get noticed fast. So Hall did what she thought was an obvious way to get attention, she bought a $42,000 yellow Hummer. Hall works for Century 21 and is used to seeing heads turn while she drives.
MS. KAREN HALL
I'm big and bright.
And then, she gets out of her vehicle.
People just say, you're awfully tiny for such a big vehicle. I just tell them it matches my personality more than my stature.
Hall helps military families buy and sell their homes. She's very comfortable with service members because she grew up in a military family and married into one. She says her Hummer helps create a level of comfort.
The military drive around in the field in Hummers. I was out with a Marine Corp General so, you know, he was talking about, I think, being in Afghanistan and, you know, riding around in the Hummer and Air Force lawyers, they get a kick out of it because they don't get to do that kind of thing.
The Hummer has her name and number plastered all over it as well as the military seals. Researchers say this sort of creative marketing helps sales. Chris Pulleg is a professor at Baylor University and studies real estate marketing nationwide.
MR. CHRIS PULLEG
If they can gain that certain level of awareness, that's really the first step in getting someone to maybe then listen to what they have to say and then maybe engage in doing business with them.
Cogie Adosi Afuiow with Long and Foster says it's critical to carve out your space. He estimates in D.C. and Montgomery County alone there are 10,000 real estate agents. But last year, less than 6,600 homes sold. He says business isn't equally distributed.
MR. COGIE ADOSI AFUIOW
The top five percent of realtors, you know, will typically do about 80 to 90 percent of that entire business. So the pie for the rest of the agents is actually very small. The number is probably closer to, you know, a couple thousand or so that the big pool of realtors are actually fighting for.
So how does Adosi Afuiow stand out? One way is to email clients little videos like this one.
Good morning John, happy birthday. Wow, today is an awesome day. One, it's your birthday. Two, its settlement.
You know, really, it has nothing to do about real estate. You know, it's just sending out, you know, a quick video that someone's going to laugh at. So when they, you know, go out into their business life and they're at work or they're with their family, they'll have this to look back on and say, man, that guy Cogie is so silly. He did a video for me and danced and played a song and I hope that when the opportunity arises in the future, then they'll remember to contact Cogie.
Adosi Afuiow also sends old-fashioned, handwritten cards via snail mail and Professor Pulleg says such a personal connection can work.
It has the opportunity for that realtor to establish a deep emotional connection and really creates a certain amount of liking. You know, this is someone I like and that translates into, you know, higher propensity to want to do business with someone and, you know, you might refer to that person to someone else.
It seems to work just fine for Adosi Afuiow. He helped people buy or sell 42 homes last year. That's six times the national average. Donna Evers with Evers and Cole is walking through a house in Chevy Chase, Maryland, priced at just under $2 million. She says every realtor asks themselves...
MS. DONNA EVERS
How am I going to be the one who gets chosen?
Evers says one of the ways she gets picked is she stages or prepares a house for selling with expensive furniture. Evers estimates paying an outside company to do this can cost up to $3,000 a month. She has approximately 300 pieces of furniture, including more than a dozen couches and 10 dining room tables. They're all beige and tan and off-white.
This is going to look a lot like the Pottery Barn Crate and Barrel Catalogs. They're going to be popular with the people who are looking at this particular house and in this price range.
Evers has accessorized with a fresh potted plant in one corner, some books on the coffee table and a globe on the desk. All part of creating an inviting atmosphere. She says the mood a home evokes can be a dealmaker or breaker.
Think of the house as a job interview. If you look really good and you're well-dressed and you're well put together, the person who's thinking about hiring you is going to be a lot more impressed.
Karen Hall, the realtor with the yellow Hummer, knows all about first impressions and the image she's projecting with her rolling billboard.
They're somewhat successful at what they do if they're driving around in a Hummer and, you know, hopefully that just kind of an out-there image. You know, I'm obviously not a quiet, timid person that drives around in, you know, an obscure vehicle. I'm fine with that.
The strategy seems to be working. She helped buy or sell 23 homes last year, giving her an edge in an industry where creativity is key to getting a leg up on the competition. I'm Kavitha Cardoza.
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